PEORIA, AZ — Two people are dead after an incident at Lake Pleasant Saturday morning.
Emergency crews were called to the Pleasant Harbor Marina/Waddell Dam area on the south end of the lake after deputies learned three men in a canoe had overturned in the water.
Crews located two people who were pronounced dead at the scene. A third person was also found with non-life-threatening injuries, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office says.
Officials identified 22-year-old Arimus Nazareth and a 14-year-old teen as two who died at the scene.
Originally, police officials believed the incident was a drowning. MCSO officials confirmed the victims died from complications of 'hypothermia due to the immersion of the cold water' on Sunday.
“It is devastating,” said Rick Luna.
Luna was camping in Lake Pleasant with family when they saw law enforcement moving toward the lake. He says there was a helicopter overhead and a lot of lights.
“We knew that something had happened,” he added.
Luna says it’s saddening to know three men in a canoe had overturned, and that two of them didn’t make it.
“Man, it hit me hard. Hit me very hard because, like I said, we’ve lost loved ones and it’s hard when you lose family members,” Luna told ABC15.
Captain Greg Serrano, with the Peoria Medical Department, says having a plan will save your life out there.
“Just have an idea of where you are on the lake so that in the event that an emergency does happen, you know how to communicate your location,” Capt. Serrano said.
He adds life vests are also a must.
“Life vests are essential if you’re going to be on any kind of watercraft,” Capt. Serrano told ABC15.
Spencer Cullers with Northshore Watersport Rentals in Tempe agrees, and says you have to wear them properly.
“You’re going to put your arms through. Make sure it’s a snug fit. Make sure you can zip it up all the way if you have a zipper. Some of them don’t have zippers. Buckle it up. Make sure you have free movement. That’s pretty much it,” he said, while showing ABC15 how to put the vest on.
Should you fall into the water:
“Then that will allow you to be in the water. You won’t necessarily have to experience that panic and the panic that comes with that,” said Captain Serrano.
Serrano also reminds folks that the elements can be very dangerous.
“The sun, the wind, even a boat that drives by kind of close might bring in a wake,” he added.
One of the reasons why Cullers says they don’t rent out water vessels is if it gets too windy.
“Boards don’t go out if there’s over 15-miles-an-hour wind, no matter what. Kayaks is a little bit higher tolerance, but if it’s over 20-mile winds, then we won’t let you out on those either,” said Cullers.
Captain Serrano also says you must always have a designated sober operator if you’re drinking on the lake.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is still working to figure out what led up to this, to prevent it from happening again.
“I feel for the families, and we pray for them,” said Luna.